Kids Eat for Free in Marin

August 26, 2014

Like many families these days, we find ourselves grabbing lunch or dinner on the go probably more than we should. Of course all this dining out adds up after a while and has the potential to be a major drain on the wallet. Fortunately, there are plenty of great family-friendly restaurants in Marin that offer free dining for kids—usually with the purchase of an adult entree (and only when dining in)—one or more days during the week.

Here's our list of kids-eat-free offers, broken down by location. Please note that all information presented here has been confirmed and is, to our knowledge, correct at the time of publishing, but deals come and deals go, so you should confirm with the restaurant before you go, just in case.

Farmer’s Market Fettuccine

August 25, 2014

Marin Mommies presents this week's guest recipe from Nicole Cibellis, Marin mom and author of the blog A Family that Eats Together, where she shares meal plans and recipes that will please foodies and children alike.

With the continued bounty of my neighbor’s gardens and my own, I have been looking for new ways to eat all our succulent summer vegetables. This is a quick and easy raw summer pasta dish which can be easily adapted to fit children’s finicky palates. Just modify the recipe using vegetables that they like the best. In this recipe, I use a vegetable peeler to cut the zucchini into extra thin ribbons, which makes it fun for my son and mixes in nicely with the pasta.

Servings: 4–6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes


Birthday Parties with the Miniature Horses of Lovepatch Farms

August 25, 2014

Lovepatch Farms Miniature Horse Birthday PartyLittle ones can have their birthday parties in the company of some other little ones at Lovepatch Farms, a miniature horse ranch now located in Marin. The gentle and approachable miniature horses at this small ranch in Novato's bucolic Indian Valley neighborhood are the perfect companions for any young horse lover's special day.

Birthday party packages at Lovepatch Farms can be in any number of themes, including “My Pretty Pony”, vintage cowboy or cowgirl, “Year of the Horse”, and more, and decorations for your theme will be provided. During the party, each child will have his or her own miniature horse to feed, groom, and even decorate with provided supplies. Additional fun, games, and surprises will be in store, too.

Kids will also create a special art project to take home, and a photos of each child with their decorated pony, as well as a group photo, will be emailed to each partygoer. Pizza, salads, and drinks are also provided. You just need to bring the birthday cake!

There's Something for the Entire Family at the Sausalito Art Festival

August 24, 2014

Sausalito Art FestivalA Marin County tradition for half a century, the Sausalito Art Festival returns to Marinship Park this Labor Day Weekend for its 62nd season. The Festival showcases the works of the finest local, national and international artists, with thousands of original works of art by 260 artists, including paintings, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, fiber art, fine glass, woodwork, mixed media, and photography.

Of course there are plenty of other things to see and do at the Sausalito Art Festival, including music by legendary headliners and local favorites on two stages. Performers include Taj Mahal, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Tommy Castro, Pride and Joy, and Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers. Fantastic food, beer, and wine will be available, too.

The 2014 Sausalito Art Festival also offers a full weekend of entertainment and hands-on activities for children and families. At the special children's area adjacent to the Bay Model look for the Magic Circus Family Show with Benny Bendini the Magician and Bebe the Clown, local children's music legend Tim Cain, and comedy chaos with Mark and Dre Show. Check out their complete list of entertainment here.

Homemade Pizza Night with Chef Daddy

August 22, 2014

homemade pizzaI know some people who say that pizza is one of those dishes that's always better when you dine out. I respectfully disagree! While that might be true for topping-laden old-school American pizza, we've been successfully making some pretty wonderful Italian-style pizzas right here at home. Unfortunately, we lack a wood-burning pizza oven in the backyard (someday…), but we get some good results in a regular home oven with a little preparation and a few tricks.

Our latest foray into homemade pizza was inspired by the summer surplus of heirloom tomatoes from our vegetable garden. The tomato plants seem to be going full throttle now, and we have more tomatoes than we know what to do with. Pizza seemed a great way to help with the problem!

Pizza Dough

The refigerated pizza dough sold by Trader Joe's is actually very good, and we use it all the time, especially if we want to make pizza on the spur of the moment. Making your own pizza crust isn't all that challenging, though, so if you have the time, go for it! The results are usually quite good, and you can even freeze extra dough to use later.

Marin Weekend Family Fun for August 22, 23 & 24

August 22, 2014
China Camp State Park San Rafael
Celebrate China Camp State Park as its annual Heritage Day this Saturday.

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Friday, August 22

  • Infant Sleep Solutions
    Parents Place, San Rafael
    Friday, 10 am–noon

    Learn some great techniques to help your little one (birth to 12 months)—and you!—sleep. We will discuss baby sleep needs and the best ways to help young ones learn good sleep habits. Pre-crawling babies welcome. With infant sleep expert Sarah Middelton, MA, CD, PCD. Cost: $40. Preregistraion required. Location: 600 Fifth Avenue, San Rafael. To register, visit their website.
  • Children's Room End-of-Summer Party
    Amphitheater & Peter Dreyfuss Garden, Mill Valley Public Library
    Friday, 2:30–4 pm

    Celebrate the end of summer with your friends and library staff under the redwood trees. Hula hoops, crafts, bubbles, face painting, Mika Scott Drumming Circle, and free ice cream will be available for your enjoyment. All Ages, no sign-up needed. Free. Location: 375 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley. For more info, call (415) 389-4292 x4741 or visit their website.
  • End of Summer Bash
    Bay Area Discovery Museum
    Friday, 5–7:30 pm

    Say goodbye to summer with us as we go out with a bang! Grab a drum and groove with Rhythm Child, participate in a bilingual storytime and bring a picnic blanket to reflect on the fun days of summer. Bean Sprouts Cafe will be open until 7:30 p.m. to purchase snacks, drinks and dinners. General $12, baby ages 6–11 months $11, and Infants under 6 months free. Performances and activities free with admission. Food available for purchase. For more info, visit their website.
  • Picnics on the Plaza
    Town Hall Lawn, San Anselmo
    Friday, 5–8 pm

    In its fifth year, the popular Picnics on the Plaza events feature music and family fun in downtown San Anselmo. Bring your picnic basket or buy food at the event. Sponsored by the San Anselmo Economic Development Committee. Location: 525 San Anselmo Avenue, Town Hall Lawn, San Anselmo. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marinwood's Music in the Park Series
    Marinwood Park, San Rafael
    Friday, 6–8 pm

    Marinwood’s most popular event is back! Enjoy Friday evenings in the park, featuring live music with Shelby Earl, delicious food by Marinwood Market, wine and beer. Free; food, wine, and beer may be purchased. Location: 775 Miller Creek Road, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 479-0775 or visit their website.
  • Jazz & Blues by the Bay
    Gabrielson Park, Sausalito
    Friday, 6:30–8:30 pm

    Jazz & Blues by the Bay at Gabrielson Park in Sausalito is a free event. Lawn seating available (first-come first-served). This Friday, Eugene Huggins and Friends, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Saualito. For more info, visit their website.

Saturday, August 23

  • Learn How to Pier Fish at Paradise Park
    Paradise Beach Park, Tiburon
    Saturday, 9 am–1 pm

    Join rangers, and a few of our experienced local anglers, to learn the secrets and tricks of the trade when fishing from a pier. A limited number of fishing poles and bait will be provided first-come, first-served to beginners, thanks to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. A valid California fishing license is required when fishing from the shore, not from the pier. Location: Paradise Beach Park, 3450 Paradise Drive, Tiburon For more info, call Ranger Mike Maraccini at (415) 435-9212 or visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Enjoy pony rides and a petting zoo for the kids from 10 am–2 pm, face kids' crafts from 9 am–2 pm, Baby Food Cooking & Nutrition Demonstration, 10:30-12:00, and Rythm Child from 10:30 am-noon, as well as fresh produce, prepared foods, and great local restaurants.  For more info, visit their website.
  • 20th Annual Bodega Seafood, Art and Wine Festival
    16855 Bodega Highway, Bodega
    Saturday,10 am–6 pm & Sunday, 10 am–5 pm

    Live music, dance floor, and a kids' entertainment and games. $15 adults, $13 seniors 60+, $11 ages 12–18, kids under 12 free. Tickets available at the gate (or discounted tickets online). Food and drink not included in admission price. No dogs allowed. Free parking. Event takes place at Watt's Ranch. For more info, visit their website.
  • WildCare Family Adventures at Indian Tree
    Indian Tree Open Space Preserve, Novato
    Saturday, 10 am–12:30 pm

    Enjoy a day out in nature with the entire family! WildCare naturalists will lead fun family programs full of discovery. We’ll look for butterflies, flowers, birds, and much more. This is one of the best preserves to visit during a summer heat wave as the trails up the north facing slopes are cloaked in forests of oak, bay, and madrone. Location: Vineyard Road, Novato; check website for directions. For more info, call Marco (415) 453-1000 ext. 17 for details and to reserve space. Visit their website for more info.
  • China Camp Heritage Day
    China Camp State Park, San Rafael
    Saturday, 11 am–4 pm

    This all-day event brings the community together to celebrate Chinese-American heritage, seafaring culture, and the natural history of our beautiful park. Heritage Day features musical and dance performances, including Lion Dancers and Chinese folk dancers. There are arts and crafts for sale, with 20% of the proceeds going to help Friends of China Camp. Location: 100 China Camp Village, San Rafael. For more info, visit their website.
  • The 9th Annual Taste of Petaluma
    Downtown Petaluma
    Saturday, 11:30 am–4 pm

    A culinary walking journey of Petaluma's finest restaurants, galleries, shops, winers, breweries and food purveyors. Buy tickets and receive your map and menu showing over 50 different participants to choose from. Purchase tickets here. For more info, visit their website.
  • Best Lil' Porkhouse Hayday
    Corte Madera
    Saturday, noon–3:30 pm

    Corte Madera's Best Little Porkhouse BBQ holds its annual Hayday event on Saturday. This free, family-friendly festival features live music, pony rides, a dunk tank, bounce house, and (of course) BBQ. Location: 60 Madera Boulevard. For more info, visit their website.
  • Hatch Chile Roasting Event
    Mollie Stone's, Greenbrae
    Saturday, noon–4 pm

    Chefs and foodies everywhere eagerly await the Hatch chile harvest season that lasts only a few short weeks in August and September. This summer Mollie Stone's will offer this unique pepper from Hatch, New Mexico, "the Chile Capital of the World". Free roasting on-site with purchase on Saturday during the event. Location, 270 Bon Air Center, Greenbrae. For more info, visit their website.
  • Novato Theater Summer Festival
    Novato Civic Green
    Saturday, 3–7 pm

    Bring the family and come downtown to enjoy good music, food, fun, and dancing on the green. There will be a kids' corner with lots of fun activities. Tickets are $10, children 12 and under are free. Online early bird special is $8. Location: 901 Sherman Avenue, Novato. For more info, visit their website.

Haircuts for Kids in Marin

August 21, 2014

Purple Monkey Hair in TiburonGetting a good kids' haircut can be a real challenge. Finding a great stylist and, above all, getting the kids to sit still and get their hair cut are often more difficult than they should be. Fortunately, here in Marin we have some great kids' salons that making getting those haircuts a much easier for both parents and kids, and even—dare we say it—fun!

Here they are, listed from north to south. If we've missed your favorite kids' hair salon, please let us know! We'd love to hear about it and add it to the list.

132 Vintage Way, Suite F3
(415) 858-2982

The new SNIPZ kids' hair salon in Novato offers haircuts for $24, as well as a variety of additonal services including special occasion styles, feather application, and shampooing and conditioning. A child's first haircut with photo keepsake and certificate and lock of hair is $29. They even offer kids' birthday parties! Make an appointment at (415) 858-2982 or visit for more info.

Indoor Drop-in Activities for the Little Ones for Marin & Beyond

August 19, 2014

Indoor playWhether it's too hot outside, too cold, or too rainy, I’m always looking for places to take the kids to get them out of the house and burn off all that extra energy. Here are a few ideas for fun indoor drop-in activites in Marin County and beyond:

Mill Valley

  • Jump Indoor Playday
    Mill Valley Community Center
    180 Camino Alto
    (415) 383-1370

    Drop-in for children ages 1–5 every Wednesday from 9 am–noon. All the mats will be out with push and pull toys, balls and obstacles to play on. Parents and/or caregivers must attend. The cost is $5 child or $7 for the family. No registration necessary. Exact change appreciated. No class: 11/26, 12/24, 12/31. For more info, call or visit their website.
  • Dance and Creative Movement with Jamaroo
    Sprout San Francisco
    12 Miller Ave., Mill Valley
    (415) 389-1312

    This class takes place every Thursday from 10–10:30 am. In class children will dance to a large variety of multicultural music and will also be exposed to many different dance styles found around the world. Kids will have the opportunity to use scarves, rhythm sticks, beanbags, bells, and other equipment. These drop-in classes are $10 per family. For more info, visit their website.

Let the Farm Come to You With a CSA or Organic Grocery Delivery in Marin

August 19, 2014

Bloomfield Organics CSA shareAs a parent, especially a new one, simple tasks like just going grocery shopping can be inconvenient, if not downright difficult. Fortunately, you can get healthy, organic food delivered right to your doorstep or to a convenient local pickup area here in Marin through a local farm's CSA or an organic grocery delivery service. These services all feature locally grown or produced, sustainable food—perfect for the locavore family!

Local CSAs

What's a CSA? CSA stands for "community supported agriculture", and it's a way for consumers to get involved with local farms and food producers, support their efforts, and get great seasonal food, too. Every week, or month, or whatever time period you choose, you'll get a box full of fresh produce, eggs, meat, and more, ready to be incorporated into your family meal plan. Some farms, like Petaluma's Tara Firma Farms, offer other benefits to their CSA members, like special events and farm tours.

Most of the time, the farms choose what goes in subscribers' boxes, but that's usually a good thing, since they know what's at the peak of season. Prices for CSA boxes vary depending on the farm and the size and frequency of the box.

Sound interesting? Here's our list of local CSAs that deliver to areas within Marin County. Many of them deliver or offer drop off sites in San Francisco, Sonoma County, and the East Bay, as well (check their websites for exact locations). We've made sure to note which CSAs offer delivery right to your door, too.

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